- Dr Michael McDonagh
The low down on Golf Cart Battery and Leisure batteries.
The term leisure battery covers a multitude of applications, from lighting a tent during a camping holiday to powering a golf cart buggy for a couple of 18-hole games per day. The applications are diverse but the requirements for the golf cart battery are very similar. In all cases the batteries are subjected to deep discharge cycles often daily. The purpose of a leisure battery is simply to provide the necessary power and energy for hobbies, sports, holidays and any activity or pursuit for pleasure rather than work or subsistence. Clearly this is a big area with many types of activity which need power. The requirement for powered vehicles such as golf cart buggies, electric canal boats and barges, camper homes or tent lighting all have the same basic operating pattern.
Although called leisure battery, there is nothing leisurely about the role of the leisure battery. This a very arduous duty requiring as high a quality, toughness and performance as any industrial application. The added problem is that as a rule the leisure battery has to be as small and light as possible and the voltages available flexible enough to be used in a range of electric vehicle drivetrains. Since it is a lead acid battery sold to the general public it is known that maintenance, or lack of it is another major concern. Lack of regular recharging, topping up, being left for many winter months in a discharged or semi-discharged state and possibly regular over-discharge are common problems.
It is important then, that this range of leisure batteries has properties which give the maximum output from the space available and have good gravimetric energy density to keep the weight down. The ability to recover from deep discharges including the occasional “accidental” over-discharge from unregulated loads and the longest possible shelf life to last in storage without significant deterioration are key features. There are many designs of golf cart batteries from many suppliers with a wide spectrum of prices and features. The choice can be literally bewildering.
It is at this point that you have to examine your requirements very carefully by referring to your particular battery application. In the following sections I will be listing the most common battery applications and examining the most useful leisure battery characteristics to look for. These will be compared with the Microtex Golf cart battery products and their unique construction and design features to see how well they cover the application requirements.
The basic golf cart battery requirements of capacity, deep discharge recovery, good cycle and shelf life have already been mentioned. These properties relate to the construction of the golf cart battery, the chemistry of the active material and the grid alloys used for the positive spine and the negative grid. The Golf Cart battery range offered by Microtex has a tubular positive plate construction with low antimony grids in the positive and negative plates. This construction is known to be tough with the highest deep cycle life and best abuse resistance of any lead acid battery construction. The low antimony alloys used in the grids will ensure that water loss is minimised with the right charger. Provided that there is sufficient time to recharge i.e. at least 15 hours, then the golf cart batteries can be recharged with a low maintenance or even a maintenance free charge regime. Microtex will advise if either of these options are available for your particular use.
Given below is a more detailed view of the most common leisure applications.
· Buggies including golf carts:
Daily range is a major consideration, along with the number of people carried and the terrain. Clearly the more people to carry, the longer the trip and the hillier the terrain, the more energy that is required from the golf cart battery. The golf cart battery range from Microtex offers a range of capacities and voltages to cope with any requirement the customer might have. The factors which affect the capacity required from the battery powering a golf cart can be listed as:
– Number of people the buggy is designed to carry (Fig 1). It may seem obvious but the load carried by the buggy is often overlooked
Figure 1 Multi person golf cart buggy
– The terrain of the golf course, whether there are hills or valleys, are there roads or rough grass or sandy surfaces to drive over.
– What type of driving is required? Is it fast or slow, is the buggy used to ferry people quickly to hotel rooms or to be part of a game with long pauses between short runs.
– How much time is there to recharge? If the batteries have less than 12 hours to recharge after an 80% DOD then they will reach the required capacity more quickly if the golf cart battery is recharged to 90% SOC. This means a larger golf cart battery will be required but a monthly equalising charge and an appropriate charger will be necessary.
– Depth of discharge. In order to improve cycle life of a golf cart battery, it is possible to reduce the depth of discharge on each daily run. For example, a round trip leaving the golf cart battery 60% discharged will give at least 50% more cycles than if it were discharged to the standard 80% of capacity (Fig. 2). This is essentially a pricing argument but with a tubular construction you can get more capacity in the same space as a flat plate design.
Figure 2 Microtex Golf Cart Battery Life Cycle Graph
– Ambient temperature plays a key role in determining the calendar life of a golf cart battery. Whilst the capacity is slightly elevated per 8 degrees Celsius, the golf cart battery life is effectively halved. Under most circumstances the cycle life and calendar life of batteries is measured and quoted at 25 degrees Celsius. Above that the life of the golf cart battery declines rapidly.
– The voltage of the golf buggy motor. This can be a variable depending on the design of the manufacturer, 12, 16 or 24-volt systems. The Microtex golf cart battery range entirely covers this in their monobloc designs (Table 1).
· Caravan and camping leisure batteries
This is an increasingly popular use for lead acid batteries and perhaps the most difficult duty for a leisure battery. This is not because of the depth of the discharges or the number of cycles per year that the leisure battery has to cope with, it is the lack of control and maintenance which are the key factors. In camper van use for example, the leisure batteries are generally in a compartment attached to the 12V supply from the alternator which charges only when the van is moving. If the van is stopped on location for a few days then recharging is difficult without using the alternator.
To fully recharge the leisure battery using the alternator means the engine must be running, this is an expensive and very environmentally unfriendly way to recharge. Use of solar panels is an alternative, but again this is a high capital expense and not a very effective way to put energy into the leisure battery. In the case of camping, this is even more difficult as the leisure battery needs to be transported from the tent or the car and recharged from the 12 V socket in exactly the same way. This means that leisure batteries are often over-discharged, insufficiently charged and usually left in a semi-discharged condition for long periods of the year when not required. All of which leads to abuse and early failure of the battery. The considerations for specifying a leisure battery are as follows:
– The operational time and the loading. This gives the total time in use between recharges. The loads on the leisure battery will be the sum of all the appliances being used, e.g. lights, TV, refrigerator and fans etc. How long they are used for and how often the battery is recharged will determine the capacity requirements.
– Inverter efficiency is a key part of the loading, at 85% it will give a higher capacity requirement than if it is 95% efficient. Do not take the manufacturers rating as necessarily the correct value, the efficiency of all inverters varies according to the load. There is a sweet spot where the inverter will operate at maximum i.e. rated efficiency
– Ambient temperature. This is exactly the same as the golf cart battery with the same destructive effects above 25C.
– The depth of discharge of the leisure battery is more difficult to control in camping holidays and often is measured by the number of appliances that will run or not run as the leisure battery discharges. Apart from the life cycle arguments already given, this clearly will lead to abuse conditions when the leisure battery can be seriously over-discharged. The lead acid battery, tubular design with lead antimony grids offered by Microtex offers the best possible safeguard against over-discharge.
– Abuse resistance. The Microtex golf cart battery flooded design combined with the low antimony content of the positive spine enables the golf cart battery battery to recover from very low voltage discharges which would kill most other designs.
– The recharge time available for leisure batteries used for camping is highly variable as most normal people do not generally plan their holidays around the requirements of their leisure battery. Again, the use of maximum capacity is recommended as it will give the lowest recharge times with the maximum energy absorption. The Microtex tubular leisure battery gives the best energy density and therefore capacity size for size of any lead acid technology.
– Self -discharge. The storage time of the leisure batteries between holidays is important as leisure batteries can run flat even without a load being applied. This internal chemical process where the active material in plates converts to lead sulphate can be very damaging and often leads to early failure of a battery. It is always recommended that stored lead acid batteries should be refresh charged at regular intervals, preferably every three months but six months should be regarded as a maximum stand period without charging. The self-discharge process is related to the antimony content of the lead alloy plate grids. The Microtex leisure battery has the lowest possible antimony content necessary to provide the best balance of corrosion resistance and cycle life of any leisure battery on the market. This provides a high degree of protection against self-discharge and plate sulphation whilst still giving a superior performance and cycle life for the leisure battery user.
The range of sizes and voltage of the Microtex leisure battery range is given in the next section along with the design features which make this range the choice of business and the general public alike (Fig. 3).
Figure 3 – Main features of the Microtex Golf cart battery range
The Microtex golf cart battery is provided in a range of sizes and voltages to cover just about every golf golf car and leisure activity requirement.
To ensure maximum flexibility for in-service requirements, there is a choice of either an L type of automotive connection or a bolted M8 male threaded terminal, LT and P&ST respectively. The carrying handles also help in moving and fitting the battery into most receptacles. The strong high impact PPCP case design means that the battery can also operate unsupported in a stand-alone situation far from the comforts of modern technology.
The requirements of a leisure battery are clearly very demanding of any technology, chemistry or manufacturer. Microtex, with its unique blend of design and manufacturing experience combined with its international expertise has put this knowledge to good use to design and produce a world beating tubular plate leisure battery. Microtex has provided the name UltraBatt Golf Cart Battery for this range with good reason.
You can expect:
· Ultra-life expectancy
· Ultra-application flexibility
· Ultra-customer satisfaction
It is for these reasons that the Microtex golf cart battery and leisure range of batteries is the choice of the professional. To learn more or place your order, follow this link.
Microtex Energy P Ltd